When I’m talking with clients about sleep, no drug or cannabis is a cure-all.
I still have to take a full health history and it’s really important to understand what is driving their insomnia. Is it waking up in the middle of night? Is it difficulty going to sleep? Is it stress related? What are the various forces affecting sleep?
This is what I do. I’m not just seeing somebody for a few minutes and prescribing something. The whole point of a holistic approach to cannabis is to get a whole health history from the person. I then talk about THC and CBD. They’re not going to be a miracle cure, but THC is a sedative. It helps millions of people sleep. There is scientific data to back up people using cannabis for sleep, but it does reduce REM sleep. You don’t sleep as deep when you’re using cannabis.
This is fine if you’re not sleeping at all without using cannabis or other medications. I mean, you’d rather have just light REM sleep than no sleep whatsoever.
THC has its downfalls. Then again, it’s such a sedative that when done right some people really swear by it for sleep. I think it’s just a great alternative to sleep medications, which aren’t natural or really addressing the deeper problem. Some people who really want to go toward something a little bit more nontoxic and natural are seeking cannabis. THC is a Band-Aid, but it’s a natural one.
CBD for Shuteye
CBD, on the other hand, is a toner. It can bring someone’s nervous system back into a stable, regulated state so that their sleep is more natural and healthy. This can take a long time. When I’m working one-on-one with a client using my CBD products or advising them how to use THC products, it can take several weeks. Going back and forth saying, “What should the dose be? How do we use it properly to get the right sleep?”
It’s important to remember that CBD is a stimulant as well. They’re doing trials on CBD to help people stay awake. They usually find that CBD is a stimulant at low doses. It helps increase the pro-cognition, the actual wakefulness of the user. But at heavier doses it is a sedative.
It helps to work with an expert and figure out “How do I use CBD? Am I at the right dose? ” It can take a month or two before people really get the effects of CBD. It has to be systemic. It has to allow the CBD to tone over time.
It’s also important to remember that THC tolerance goes up. I have clients who are taking a few drops of THC. They find that’s all they need to sleep, just a few drops at night. Some people find that their tolerance with THC goes up, so I have clients who are taking maybe 40 milligrams of THC every night for sleep.
That’s fine if it works for them and fits their budget. There is a point of diminishing returns if you’re taking so much THC into your system and not addressing the underlying issues of insomnia. That stressful job, using screens at night, eating too late in the evening – THC can only do so much before it stops working and no increased dose is going to help.
That’s why it’s good to have CBD, because we’re really trying to tone the system and get things back to normal. THC isn’t really toning the system. It’s just kind of helping like a sleeping pill would each night. Once you go off THC, your sleep issues can come back. Some people on CBD for an extended period find that it tones their system to where they can fade out – actually reduce their CBD use and their issues don’t come back. Their sleep remains stable and healthy.
How Oils Can Help Us
I’m a real stickler for ingestion methods. A lot of people smoke cannabis. Millions of people find they just smoke a few puffs of cannabis at night and feel that is enough for them. By the time the sedative Indica strain wears off they’ve had a great night of sleep. Those are very lucky people. For others, just a little bit of smoke into the system stimulates the brain. It keeps them thinking, worrying, and anxious late into the night.
That’s why I say move to an oil. An oil is like a slow release pill. It goes into the gut. It goes into the digestive tract where the THC or CBD begins to sedate and regulate the second brain, as it were. It sends feedback to the brain signaling that the body is calm and can go to sleep. Sometimes an oil is a much more efficient and effective tool for sleep.
You take oil right before you hit the pillow at night and it goes into the system, working slowly so that the body still feels sedation deep into the night and early morning. That’s basically it.
I encourage people to reach out to me if they’re using cannabis or conventional medications and not getting the sleep results they want. Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan can help people sleep, but some people can be dependent upon those drugs in a very uncomfortable and challenging way. There’s a way of really tweaking a cannabis dose so that it’s an appropriate amount for quality sleep.
Then there’s a real beauty that happens when you have a user who gets benefits from sleep.